Palace orders DA to focus on domestic market
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has been ordered by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to focus on meeting domestic demand rather than developing exports.
Agriculture Undersecretary for policy and planning Segfredo R. Serrano said that despite the optimistic outlook for global trade in early 2018, alternative strategies are being considered such as bringing in more tourists to increase domestic consumption of agricultural produce.
Mr. Serrano said export markets are volatile, and fresh fruit is difficult to transport and sell to certain markets.
“Our target is a 10% increase in the volume and value of exports for the medium term. But, of course, the President has instructed us to concentrate on serving the domestic market,” he added.
“You can’t just keep on exporting when you have so many issues to solve in the domestic market. You need to improve the confidence of consumers particularly on safety and the availability of food supply.”
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that export plans for high-value crops like cacao and coffee are hampered by poor domestic yields.
Mr. Serrano said that the country still has potential in high-value products. Coconut products, which are considered low-value, remain the country’s top agricultural export.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, agriculturebased exports fell 61.71% year on year in December to $150.40 million.
Mr. Serrano said that under the new policy direction, the model might be Thailand, where the highly developed tourist industry provides a boost to the domestic consumption of Philippine products.
“If you substantially increase the tourist arrivals, whatever you produce here won’t be exported,” he added.
“You can sell your goods within your borders. The farmers won’t have to worry about logistics or quarantine.”
A FARMER gathers freshly harvested coffee cherries at his plantation in the town of Amadeo, Cavite. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that export plans for high-value crops like cacao and coffee are hampered by poor domestic yields.